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Alamaailman Vasarat - Vasaraasia CD (album) cover

VASARAASIA

Alamaailman Vasarat

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.21 | 45 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

This absolutely crazy acoustic band is one of the legacy of the crazed Hoyry Kone . Somehow relatively close to the spirit of the now defunct HK, three members united (though not necessarily as musicians) to make some totally acoustic fusion music not far removed from the Gypsy Jazz music that you would hear from an Emir Kusturica movie (Underground or Time of the Gypsys). A completely acoustic quintet, where the duo brass attack (I know the sax is a wood, but WTH), much of the rhythm comes from Maninen's cello replacing the bass and rhythm guitar (ac or el) and is part of much of the group's original sound, especially in the manner of recording the cello, although they will fine-tune that later on. The frantic drumming is provided by Haninen and often comes to the festive mood that was HK's. Completing the quintet is Huttunen on piano, but also the pump organ, which provides again a weird personality to the group, often between the accordion and the harmonium. Their first album is adequately released on the highly-specialised Swedish label Silence (thinking of Von Zamla etc.) and comes in a superb digipack with an intriguing escalator artwork and in the booklet itself, a wintery and night urban décor that fits the music rather well.

As said above, the musical directions heads out east and southbound, to the eastern European soundscapes of the Gypsy and Jewish traditions, adding a certain rock feeling and energy that would make a rear granddad raise from his grave and dance once more one of those polkas of yesteryears. There is an unreal and slightly grotesque/satirical facet of their music (much as you'd find on most of Zappa's music) that can eventually tire out quickly some progheads, especially those who are more prone to symphonic soundscapes. Personally I prefer AV's slower (and usually longer) tracks, rather to the all-out cosmic-speed playing of the faster (and shorter) polkas. The general AV canvas is alternating between the two types of extremes, with no middle ground.

Some tracks provide a welcome rest between the relatively similar polka to avoid repetition but ultimately, given the full duration of the album, it is relatively ineffective in the long run. Highly atmospheric (even gloomy ala UZ) tracks like Hakumies, an impressive crescendo that transforms into a sort of tango, or the dramatic finale Siltojen Alla, with its almost metallic doom-metal cello alternating with speed-thrash-metal polka played at breakneck speed. My personal favourite track on this album is Tankkaustunti, where Haukkalla's trombone teams up with Maninen's cello to give crunchy riffs and chords (that most metalheads would love to invent acoustically) over an eerie pump organ in the background, the whole thing turning almost in a bolero with its war-like drumming. Lakeus also draws an honourable mention.

But once the surprise gone, in regards to repetitive listenings, the music settles is a sort of monotonous way to become relatively quickly uninteresting (even though it is impeccably played) and really tiresome as the album reaches the last track. The fact that this is totally instrumental does not help as you need to constantly look up to the deck display to see which track is playing. Though the follow-up is better, if you're a glutton for punishment, I'd tell you to start with that one, knowing that this one is much less inventive, therefore you'll save yourself a bit of enjoyment for their marginally better second album.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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